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Principles and practice of phytotherapy, 2nd edition.

Bone K, and Mills, S. Churchill Livingstone, Sydney, 2013. ISBN: 9780443069925 Pages: 1056 Also available as an e-book at AUD 120.00


This is not a tome to read from cover to cover; rather it is a great reference book for practitioners, teachers and those wanting an introduction to research and herbal medicine. The second edition of Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy has been extensively revised and updated, includes thousands of relevant references and is significantly larger than the now thirteen year old first edition.

There are three main sections. The first section Background and Strategies: Herbal therapeutic Systems briefly introduces the development, theories and philosophies of traditional Western herbal medicine and also introduces Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic herbal medicine. This is valuable when one considers that many herbs are being integrated into Western herbal medicine from Oriental and Ayurvedic traditions. However, Mills and Bone go further than this in comparing the different traditions and historical views of health, illness and herbal healing, and find common elements to consider when studying, practising and researching herbal medicine today. Principles of Herbal Pharmacology presents a lengthy and detailed introduction to the chemistry behind herbal therapeutics, while the much shorter Principles of Herbal Treatment builds on concepts first discussed in Herbal Therapeutic Systems. Validating Herbal Therapeutics acknowledges both the 'gold standard' of evidence-based research and the value of traditional and empirical evidence: the central importance of the human experience of herbal medicines when considering further research. The authors argue for maintaining herbal medicines as medicines in their own right, rather than merely as supplements or inferior medicinal products. Optimising Safety is another important section, giving a practical review of safety considerations, adverse reactions and herb-drug interactions when prescribing herbal medicines, as well as a discussion of potentially alarmist claims of adverse reactions and a caution to remember quality and safety considerations for all forms of herbal medicines, and contamination and substitution problems when choosing what herbal products you might use in your dispensary.

Part 2, Practical clinical guides discusses dosage and prescribing approaches in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda in both historical and contemporary contexts, and their relevance to different streams of Western herbal medicine. The manufacture of herbal liquid preparations, tablets, powders, capsules, and teas, with a brief discussion of quality, standardisation and comparison of doses follows. Chapter 7 looks at a systematic approach to herbal prescribing and further expands on the concepts of herbal medicine introduced in Background and Strategies. Chapter 8 summarises herbal approaches to general pathological states, including fever, fatigue, inflammatory conditions and malignancies. The final chapter of Part 2 examines herbal approaches to body system dysfunctions. This useful section goes further than just summarising herbs used in different conditions, in reiterating and explaining normal healthy physiology of the body systems as well as the broad groups of phytotherapeutics used to correct dysfunction in each body system, and is interspersed with brief case histories to illustrate recommendations for the treatment of specific disorders.

Part 3, Materia medica, presents very comprehensive monographs for fifty different herbs, covering all body systems. which is a most valuable development of the material of the previous section. While knowledge of more than fifty herbs is necessary to practice herbal medicine, the monographs give a comprehensive introduction to each of the herbs included, consisting of information on common and botanical names, actions, effects, traditional and modern usages, dosage, preparation, safety considerations, pharmacodynamics, studies, safety, interactions, contraindications, dosages and the regulatory status of each herb in Australia, China, Germany, the UK and USA. Each monograph is extensively referenced, and some surprising and new information is covered. If you are looking for more information than a desktop reference can provide, both the monographs and references provided in this section are very useful. A prodigious amount of collating and synthesising information has gone into these monographs: for example, 262 references are cited in the monograph for panax ginseng alone.

The authors are well-known as successful and highly experiencedherbal medicine practitioners. Their extensive experience as writers and researchers makes theirs highly authoritative voices when discussing the principles and practice of herbal medicine. For experienced practitioners, the second edition of Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy provides a valuable review of herbal medicine principles and practice, new information on 50 familiar herbs, and insights into the research, manufacture and safety considerations of phytotherapy. For teachers of herbal medicine, the book will be a most valuable reference for all aspects of the practice, manufacture, philosophy and varied history of herbal medicine, and provides a much needed introduction to the assessment and extent of phytotherapy research.
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Author:Barnes, Larisa
Publication:Journal of the Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 1, 2013
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